MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somali National Army [SNA] on Monday killed at least 16 al-Shabaab militants in central Somalia, officials said in the latest crackdown on the al-Qaeda-linked group, which has been pushing to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somalia government that has existed in a a couple of years.
Eyewitnesses said the army killed the militants in the Bula’le area of Galgadud, within the state of Galmadug, which has been fighting to curb the rising uprising despite improved security. SNA troops have been conducting operations in the state since January as they prepare to take over security responsibilities in Somalia.
There was a heavy gun battle within the region located near Dhusamareb, the regional administrative capital of Galmadug. Residents said several militants were critically injured and a number of them have since been arrested pending trial by military court in the coming weeks.
During the operation, several weapons were seized and are now in the custody of security forces. SNA troops are also said to be fighting the area as they pursue militants who have been wreaking havoc in the country, which has been battling instability for the past many years.
Galmadug has literally been an Al-Shabaab zone, but security forces have intensified operations as they seek to liberate several strategic cities that have served as a source of revenue for the militants. Al-Shabaab collects revenue from the locals in the name of Zakat, which is used to help operations against their targets.
Sources said the fight was triggered by a landmine planted by Al-Shabaab militants hitting a convoy of SNA troops. The incident left a soldier dead, according to a regional minister who spoke to the Voice of America on Monday. The attack happened east of Dhusamareb when government forces collided with militants.
Although the group remains significantly degraded, it has led small to large-scale sporadic attacks across Somalia and Kenya, forcing an operation by Allied security forces. The US military has assisted Somali National Army through systematic airstrikes against Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
Elsewhere, four Al-Shabaab militants were also killed on Monday when a landmine they planted exploded prematurely at the SOS junction along the Mogadishu-Bal’ad corridor on Monday, Somali police said without delving into the details of the incident.
Mogadishu has registered terrorist incidents in recent weeks despite the fact that the militants were driven out of the city in 2011. However, the capital remains relatively peaceful despite the fact that it has registered increased attacks.